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Background of the Study

The word “home” can be described as the house or flat/apartment that one lives in, especially with one’s family. In another context, it is used to refer to one’s town, district, country where one lives and regards as one’s own. Home is a social unit made up of father, mother, children and relatives (Evans, 2006). Home environment refers to the surroundings which the child finds himself after being born, which he or she interacts with (Farrant, 2005).  For this study, home-environment is a most powerful informal learning situation in which the families, especially parents, act as educators. In the home, parents socialize their children into the norms and culture of the home and general society through their interactions with the children. On this note, Bloom (1984) demonstrates that, “it is what parents do in the homes that count for learning development of children”. The author went further to say that, lack of encouragement, low quality of parents’ language and lack of stimulating activities in the home will reduce the home’s effectiveness as a learning environment. The child’s home environment can also be said to consist of the physical items and materials within the home that are capable of making or marring the child’s achievement in school, such items and materials which a child can see, feel or touch, like the nature of buildings, furniture, electronics, spaces, toys and other play materials. Psychological state of the home such as emotions feelings and thinking that come to the child whenever he or she remembers home, interactions and discipline available in the home. And social state which comprises of the child’s interaction with parents, siblings, peers, relatives and other adults in the child’s home environment.

There are different types of home such as nuclear home which comprises of one father, mother and their children; extended home which is made up of parents, grand-parents, children, uncles, aunties, nephews and nieces and; polygamous home which comprises of one father, two or more mothers and children. There is also single or lone parent home which is made up of either the father or mother and children as a result of death, or divorce. (Hornby,2010). This study will focus on nuclear and polygamous homes. This is because the study area is predominantly occupied by Muslims and few Christians who believe in “one man, two or more (four) wives” and “one man one wife” modes of marriage respectively. These two forms of home present different home environments to the child and this could influence the child’s overall development and education achievement in particular. This is because the home environment accommodates a variety of information with which a child can interact and prepare him/herself for later development in life before he or she steps into the school environment.

For all children, the interior of the home and its immediate surroundings are the first environments they experience in their early childhood. Young children spend majority of their time in the home. Home environment refers to the surroundings which the child finds him/herself after being born. It can be a good and clean, or filthy and chaotic environment. It also implies any and every influence with which an individual comes into contact after the hereditary pattern has been received through the plasma (Oladele, 2004).Home environments have been shown to be major factors as physical, social and psychological that influences the overall behavior.  Within the home environment, children have their early interactions with members of their family and the availability and quality of resources for learning and playing largely determine the nature of these interactions. Availability of stimulating objects, books and play materials within the home are critical indicators for the overall quality of the home environment. Parent’s socio-economic status such as parental occupation, level of education, parental income and family size are also among the factors in the home environment that could determine the school readiness and academic achievement of the child (Evance, 2005). In the past, research on the physical environment of homes and communities primarily focused on environmental hazards, environmental stress and impacts of poverty. Recently, there has been an increasing interest among researchers on the quality of home environments and their impact on child development (Harris, and Evans, 2005).

Within the study area, most parents are predominantly peasant farmers and petty traders. This, coupled with the practice of one man, two or more wives has made the families coping strength to be low and lessen interest in the education of their children. These children lack stimulating learning materials in their various homes and cannot find any relatedness to what they have in the home to what is obtainable in their various schools. When a child lacks the sense of relatedness, the child will find it difficult to cope with learning tasks since these children are mostly at their concrete operational stage of development mostly characterized by “hands-on” thinking (Piaget, 1954),where children learn by recognizing logical stability of the physical world (Woolfork, 2011). As a result, elements in the environment may contribute to a large extent to children’s poor academic achievement. Such factors as poor feeding little sleep and unhygienic domestic conditions may have negative effects on the child’s health which may result in a lowering of his capacity to learn. This may rob him of a background and general knowledge which is accepted as self-evident by most schools (Downie, 2000). When a child comes from a “good” home where the parent provides adequately for the needs of their family and where there is adequate opportunity for intellectual interests, the foundations are firmly laid by the time the child goes to school.

However, in the case of the impoverished child, the father and mother may not, as a result of deficient finances, have the opportunity or the desire to stimulate the child intellectually; his vocabulary could be limited, inaccurate or wrongly pronounced. The emotional atmosphere in the home may exercise a great influence on the child. If there is a cold care-less attitude, irregularity and evasion of discipline, the child may display such undesirable characteristics as dishonesty, aggression and a lack of punctuality to school. The quarrels, dissatisfaction and instability of the home atmosphere may disturb his or her emotional equilibrium and he or she may become demoralized. Parental antagonism towards the school may also influence the child so that he also adopts these attitudes in imitation of his parents (Downie, 2000). According to Bell(2005), a large part of a person’s intelligence can be ascribed to accumulation of experience and knowledge. Development in childhood thus forms the basis for the child’s later intelligence. Bell also states that it is therefore imperative that the child must receive good and adequate food, be protected against illness, be intellectually stimulated and be well-adjusted so as to be able to cope with learning and other physical and psychological challenges within the school environment.

Researchers have found evidence for associations among various aspects of the school environment and children’s achievement scores (Brookover ,2000) However, controversy remains over whether these associations reflect true relationships between school environment and achievement. School environment focuses on the school’s physical, social, academic and administrative aspects in terms of the building design, size of the classroom and the infrastructure, including library facilities, staffroom, toilet, school compound, playground, computer room, clubs, leadership style, teacher-pupil relationship, teaching and learning materials and methods of teaching. These are variables that affect pupils’ academic achievement through their direct or indirect interaction with them (Ajayi, 2001). School environment also includes instructional space planning and accessories planning. The classroom interaction between pupils and teachers are essential in the teaching and learning process. A school’s social-cultural context like the club, leadership style and peers are other important components of the learning environment that influence the pupils’ achievement (Allen, 2009).

The school environment therefore remains an important area that should be studied and well managed to enhance pupils’ academic achievement. The school physical environment should be both appropriate and attractive to pupils in the school. The extent to which pupils learn could be enhanced or marred depending on the structures within the school environment, availability of instructional facilities and accessories, teachers’ mannerisms and teaching methods. It could be said that a well-planned school will gear up expected outcomes that will facilitate social, physical and psychological anticipations such as effective teaching and learning process and academic achievement of pupils.

This is true of a well-planned school environment but within the study area, public schools are still lacking basic infrastructures that are meant to stimulate motivation for pupils to learn in schools. Some school blocks are dilapidated and serve as a threat to both the teachers and the pupils with no desks for the pupils and tables for the teachers. In extreme cases, some classrooms are organized under mango trees within the school compound where the children sit on the bare floor or on their school bags. There are no learning facilities such as libraries, computer laboratory and other learning materials. Teachers come to school at their own pace and leave the school premises at will because they do not have chairs and tables to settle down with. This problem could make pupils to lose focus in learning and thereby perform poorly in academics.

The word pupil is a person who is usually young, who is learning under the close supervision of a teacher, at school, a private tutor or alike. Primary school on the other hand is a school in which children receive primary or elementary education between the age of 6-11years, coming before secondary school and after pre-school (UNESCO, 2012).

It is the first stage of compulsory education in most parts of the world and it is normally available without charge but may be paying independent schools. In some countries, primary schooling has further been divided into lower primary (LP school) and higher primary school (HP school) which were established to provide more practical instructions (FGN, 2004).

This study will focus on children between the ages of 9-11 years.  This is arguably a critical period, providing a foundation for the course of later life (Moravick, 2001). Also, this is a stage at which most children are in primary school hence the thrust of this study. Primary school forms the bedrock or foundation of other forms of education as stated in the National Policy on Education NPE (FRN,2004) and if children at this stage are not made to see learning as a crucial process for enhanced academic achievement, they will not form positive attitudes about learning in their later lives.

The Federal Government of Nigeria, through its policy on education (FGN, 2004), has made it compulsory and tuition free for every Nigerian child to be in school and to actively participate in learning. Even the state governments have followed suit by creating teaching employment and providing  grants for practicing teachers to enroll in further studies and up-grade their teaching careers. Despite these efforts by the federal and state governments, children in the study area are still left to roam the streets, hawk at the motor parks rather than going to school. Most children from illiterate Muslim homes prefer to attend Qur’anic schools, stay in the mosque and run errands for older people in the Qur’anic school to going to school. This has continually made the Ankpa Education Zone backward in terms of education despite the wake-up call by the Kogi state government and few philanthropists in the area.

Among the few that are regular in school are children from Christian homes, who are mostly strangers living within Ankpa town and few others from among the indigenes but who are  irregular in attendance to school. This could be attributed to their parents’ nonchalant attitude towards their children’s education. On many occasions, children of school age are compelled by their parents to hawk vegetables and other food stuffs around for them during school hours. Few that will be allowed to be in school, will divert to hawking immediately they close from school. These could be disastrous to the child’s coping mechanism in learning which will probably lead to poor achievement in school.

Achievement is variously defined in different fields. In the field of education, achievement is seen as the act of accomplishing or attainment of goal. Academic Achievement refers to a person’s performance in a given academic area (reading, writing, listening and speaking). Academic Achievement relates to academic subjects pupils study in school and the skills pupils expected to master in each subject (Kathryn, 2010). This implies that an individual is said to have achieved a set educational goal when the goal is successfully accomplished by him. In line with this notion, Enyi (2004) perceived achievement as the degree of success attained by an individual on a task he has earlier been exposed to. For this study, Academic achievement is the extent of success attained by primary school pupils at the end of specified learning bench mark measured by grades within a particular grade in primary school. This also implies that pupil is said to have achieved if he or she has successfully attained this learning bench mark and is due for promotion to the next grade. Otherwise, the child could be said not to have achieved. For this study, achievement will be measured in terms of pupil’s overall performance in English language.

English Language is a language brought by the colonial government to be used as an official language and a medium of instruction in the formal education system ranging from primary education to tertiary education in all Anglophone countries including Nigeria. It is also learned as a subject and made compulsory for pupils to pass before they are to be admitted into any secondary school in the country as stated in the National Policy on Education, NPE (FGN, 2004). The medium of instruction should be the language of the environment in the lower basic classes 1-3. Though English Language is made compulsory in every class in basic education, pupils’ achievement in English Language continues to deteriorate. School children find it very difficult to pass English Language both in primary and secondary education. This is in line with Adebule (2004), assertion that there is a general consensus of opinion about the poor achievement of students in Nigerian. This invariably includes primary school children in Kogi State. Since students’ academic achievement is measured by their performance in core subjects which are English Language and Mathematics, the present study will focus on English Language in measuring pupils’ achievement in school.


Statement of the Problem

There has been a wide decline in primary school pupil’s achievement in academics in general and in English Language in particular in spite of the efforts of the Federal, State and Local governments to bring education to the door step of every child. The homes from where these children come to school which are supposed to serve as the first learning contacts for easy learning in schools are not supporting the children’s learning thereby contributing to the children’s low motivation in learning. The children are confronted with poor food, little sleep and unhygienic domestic conditions which may have negative effect on health and as a result lower their capacity to learn.

On the other hand, the emotional atmosphere in the home also, to some extent, has negative influence on the child. The children within the study area are faced with cold care-less attitude, irregularity and evasion of discipline as a result of having polygamous background in which there is competition and survival of the fittest syndrome among members of the family. As a result, children display such undesirable characteristics as dishonesty, aggression and a lack of punctuality to school. The quarrels, dissatisfaction and instability of the home atmosphere may disturb the child’s emotional equilibrium and the child may become demoralized about school coupled with parental antagonism towards the school as mostly found among illiterate parents who dominate the area.

Despite the efforts of the government to build schools and enhance teachers’ teaching capacity, there are a good number of schools within the area which do not meet up with the government’s standard of what a public school should be. Most school buildings are dilapidated and form threats to both teachers and pupil’s lives while in school. As a result, most classrooms are under the shade of trees without desks. There are little or no learning facilities such as libraries, computer laboratory and other learning materials. Teachers come to school at their own pace and leave the school premises at will because they do not have chairs and tables to settle down with. This problem has made pupils within the study area to lose focus in learning and prefer roaming the streets rather than to going to school, despite the federal government’s policy on education. This could lead to poor academic achievement in their overall performance and in English Language in particular. The problem of this study in question form is To What Extent do Home and School Environments Correlate with Pupils’ Academic Achievement in English Language?


Purpose of the Study

The general purpose of this study was to find out the extent  home and school environment affect academic achievement of public primary school pupils in English Language.

Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. Find out the children’s home environmental factors in relation to their academic achievement in English Language.
  2. Find out the pupils’ school environmental factors in relation to their academic achievement in English Language.
  3. Find out the determinants of home and school environment on pupil’s academic achievement in English Language


Significance of the Study     

The study has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, Bronfenbrenner’s Theory of Child Development  is relevant to the study. The theory posits family factors as determinants of child outcome that have been useful in the design of social interventions as it includes the investigation of psychological resilience or why some children thrive in adverse circumstances and others seem to withdraw when faced with such circumstances. By this, a justification is made on the need for a conducive learning environment for every child.

Practically, the study is expected to be of great benefit to teachers, parents and primary school pupils, Parent Teachers Forum (PTF), educators and school administrators.

Teachers in the field of teaching and learning may benefit from this study because this study will bring to the knowledge of the government those teaching facilities the teachers are lacking in the course of their teaching and the government will provide them for the schools. This will make for less teaching load for the teachers.

This study may be significant generally to parents by providing information to parents on how to improve their homes knowing fully well that issues in the home have impact to their children’s school outcome. Parents will, through this study, learn to relate better with their children, provide them with learning and stimulating facilities that will prompt their learning curiosity. When these are done by parents, children will be motivated to learn thereby developing positive attitudes towards school seeing that their parents are in full support.

School administrators may through this study derive the means of implementing and persuading federal government policies on how to rehabilitate the school structures and employ skillful teachers within the study area.

Parents’ Teachers’ Forum (PTF) can be sensitized by way of organizing workshop and seminars on value orientation for helping relationships. This can facilitate in their children the habit of personal hygiene, coming early to school, total concentration to lessons, reading, and writing, listening and speaking habits. The findings of this study may better equip educators with the knowledge of problems affecting the learners and proffer possible solutions. The awareness created can bring about relative improvement among teachers, parents and the society at large on how to take proper care of education of children.


Scope of the Study   

The study was carried out in Ankpa Education Zone Kogi State.  The Zone comprises Ankpa, Ejema and Ojoku district. The study also covered children’s home and school environments as determinants of their academic achievement in English Language. The study tried to look at the types of home, factors in the home such as physical, psychological and social factors as they determine children’s achievement in school. Issues in the school environment such as the physical environment, social environment and psychological environment were also looked at as they determine pupils’ achievement in school.

Research Questions

The following research questions guided the study;

  1. To what extent do factors in the home environment influence pupils’ academic achievement in English Language?
  2. To what extent do factors in the school environment influence pupils’ academic achievement in English Language?
  3. To what extent do home and school environments influence pupils’ academic achievement in English Language?